Catherine Elton’s article “Foreclose this!” (excerpted below) appears in the November 2011 edition of Boston Magazine.
The moving truck, empty and waiting, is parked around the corner from the house, because between the protestors and the police cars, there is no longer any room for it in front of 197 Normandy Street. Inside the stately brick duplex, which sits in a foreclosure-ravaged section of Dorchester, Drusilla Francis has packed only a few bags, hoping against reason that, somehow, at day’s end she will still be living in the home she’s owned for 22 years. Today, U.S. Bank is evicting her after foreclosing on her loan.
The only thing standing between Francis, a 66-year-old foster mother, and her place among the swelling ranks of displaced homeowners is the public relations nightmare that’s currently unfolding for U.S. Bank in front of her home: Some 80 placard-waving, slogan-chanting protestors from City Life/Vida Urbana, a local nonprofit, are jamming the sidewalk and spilling into the street, demanding that, rather than kick Francis out, the bank sell the house back to her at a reasonable price. Several volunteers, willing to risk arrest, are ready and waiting to form a human barricade across Francis’s front walk. Over and over, the protesters chant, “The banks get bailed out, the people get moved out.”
Across the street, Burton Malkofsky, a constable hired by U.S. Bank’s attorneys to oversee the eviction process, is waiting with a rolled-up white paper in his hand. It’s Malkofsky who called the police to this eviction. He’s been anticipating trouble for some time now, especially since seeing the yellow “We Shall Not Be Moved” signs — written in English, Spanish, and Haitian Creole — that were hanging in windows during prior trips to the house to serve Francis notices. Actually, Malkofsky knows City Life’s tactics quite well. A few years ago, a disabled protestor chained his wheelchair to the front gate of a house where Malkofsky was trying to serve an eviction. The police had to come with bolt cutters to snip the chain. “I don’t have anything against City Life,” Malkofsky says. “They have a job to do protecting homeowners and tenants. I am hired by the attorneys to do evictions. That’s my job.”